“Just because you can’t see something with your naked eye doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”

(Calcite rhomb from the Challenger Cave in Mexico photographed under natural light, longwave and shortwave light. Photos courtesy of John Rofrano.)

At Birds on the Brink Sanctuary we know that our parrots, bees, and butterflies all see fluorescence. But we humans have to use a UV light, as we don’t have that capacity with our eyes. But we thought: just because we can’t see fluorescence with our naked eye doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. So even though it’s beyond our present visual spectrum, why not explore it anyway?

When we look into the Universe or the Sanctuary and use long, short or medium-wave light, things look completely different than how they appear to our eyes. As we start to realize that the different wavelengths show us completely different aspects of objects in our world, we can then start to further explore just what else in the world does that.

Here’s a fun exploration we’re doing at the Sanctuary right now:  if we know which flower bees choose they go to because the center of the flower/pollen fluoresces a certain color, when they go back to the hive, we can see just which flower or plant they prefer depending on the florescent color on their nose or face.  Each flower they choose fluoresces differently. For example, there are several types of Coneflower plants that really are bright fluorescent, so if we find that color on the bees we know that it was their preferred plant.